Little Eight John (Picture Puffins)

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9780140556308: Little Eight John (Picture Puffins)

Little Eight John's mother warns him that mischief--like sitting backwards in his chair and kicking frogs--means bad luck for the family. But what his mother warns him not to do, he does, and when he baby gets sick and the potatoes don't grow, Little Eight John just laughs. Then, one day, trouble come looking for him. Full color .

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From School Library Journal:

Kindergarten-Grade 3-- Wahl and Clay take readers to what appears to be Depression-era, rural North Carolina, to relate the story of Little Eight John, a boy who ``. . . was as mean as mean there was.'' He consistently disobeys his mother's admonitions by kicking toad-frogs, sitting backwards in a chair, climbing trees in his best clothes, etc. With each mischievous act, he brings sickness and bad luck to his family. Finally, Old Raw Head Bloody Bones, embodied in steam from the kettle on the stove, turns him into a spot of jam on the kitchen table. Just as his mother is about to wipe it up, the boy wakes up and calls out to her to stop. In another well-known version of this story found in Virginia Hamilton's The People Could Fly (Knopf, 1985), Little Eight John meets a worse fate by being turned into a grease spot and literally rubbed out of existence by his mother. In Wahl's version, the child repents of his evil ways. While the story is written in the vernacular of its regional setting and is perfect for telling aloud, it is very didactic. As he did in Tailypo! (Holt, 1991), Clay has effectively used acrylics to create artwork that is glowing and realistic with hints of impressionism. His illustrations are notable for his characters' expressive faces. The use of inset pictures, various perspectives and point of view, as well as interesting visual effects, are unusual and an excellent extension of the text. Librarians searching for additional African-American folklore in picture-book format or for folklore from North Carolina should consider this book. --Andrew W. Hunter, Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg, Charlotte, NC
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews:

When Little Eight John's mother warns that misfortune will follow if he kicks the toad frogs, sits backwards on a chair, or counts his teeth, it only spurs him on; later, he laughs gleefully when the baby gets colic, the cow stops giving milk, and his family goes broke. Finally, after one transgression too many, terrifying Old Raw Head Bloody Bones changes the boy into a spot of jam; himself once again, he promises to mind. Wahl, who heard this story years ago ``along the back roads of West Virginia,'' retells it in simple, brief sentences that artfully evoke a country storyteller's pace and cadences. Clay's paintings, though warm and energetic, are more contrived, with characters often viewed several times in a scene. Cocky Little Eight John watches his parents' discomfiture with an exaggerated grin; disappointingly, his transformations are not shown; and the cartoony Old Raw Head is at odds with the illustrations' otherwise realistic style. An amusing but flawed rendition of this old-fashioned cautionary tale. (Folklore/Picture book. 6-8) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Jan Wahl, Wil Clay (Illustrator)
Published by Puffin (1998)
ISBN 10: 0140556303 ISBN 13: 9780140556308
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Jan Wahl; Illustrator-Wil Clay
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